Thursday, September 08, 2005

Katrina: Recovery Information Protection Act (RIP A)

Dan Chaney sent an email to katrinadev. We are working on a people finder application for use in the wake of Katrina. His post is at the top, followed by my reaction.

The Recovery Information Protection Act (RIPA, a term I completely made up as I was typing this in...) would be legislation designed to protect the information being posted in order to find survivors from being used for any other use, such as spam, commercial interests, etc. With the best of intentions, people are providing data on themselves and other individuals in order to find them. However that same data can be used for less altruistic purposes unless there are specific prohibitions against it. As generators of systems that collate and expand that data, we need to be aware of this issue. I am NOT suggestion we scale back efforts in any way, shape or form, the priority of finding people remains the highest priority (I'm not changing FamilyMessages' input screens, for example and we're continuing the PFIF implementations.) Nonetheless, a parallel effort to protect the use of that data should begin.

1. Does anyone know of existing legislation that would cover this issue?

2. Can anyone recommend US Congressional contacts that would be helpful here? I believe this would require quick action at the federal level (and that isn't the contradiction it seems if it can be a rider onto an emergency funding bill) but federal level is the only way to make it apply safely to the Internet.

3. Is there a downside to such legislation? (Let's assume it is narrowly drawn but precedent setting nonetheless)

I recognize this isn't a key issue for most of us focused on the technological, immediate and demanding issues but I'm hoping to help them head off another set of problems tomorrow by sidestepping them today. No one in their situation needs to deal with a million telemarketers with scams designed to play on their misfortunes,
financial or otherwise.



Dan, Good, proactive thread... Nice thinking. You open a big can of worms.

However, I don't think your proposed legislative direction makes for a good outcome. It is NOT something I'd want to push in the real world. But after slamming the core of the ideas -- I'll attempt to offer a better solution / direction / approach (perhaps we'll agree). So, Dan, nice jucy can of worms -- but no thanks. I'll take a different flavor -- say a JAR of worms.

READERS, this has NOTHING to do with "DEV" on the pressing software / network application. So, it will be my ONLY posting to this list. I'll take the concepts to the WIKI, however, and my personal blog. You can stop reading now if busy and only interested in the bits and bytes.

First off -- there is a NATIONAL Do not call database. They also exist on a state by state basis. We also have one in our state.

(FYI, I don't agree with DO NOT CALL LISTS either -- and my name and #s are not in that db. But, that is another point well beyond this.)

Plus, local state attorney generals can be at the forefront of your concerns. An attorney general could -- and should perhaps -- stand up at a press briefing (while talking about gasoline price gougers, etc.) and cover what you put forth in your concerns. The attorney general can say -- "HANDS off to the unscrupulous." Otherwise, you'll feel the wrath of my office, blah, blah, blah.

I'm fine and would even support you taking these concepts to any and all Attorney Generals of each state.

Next, in the marketplace, there is sure to be a lot of backlash to any firm who might mine for sales given these reports. Is Lands End going to do a special Down South Gulfin catalog for the fall season and try to target victims of Katrina? No way.

The data, as we'll be finding out, is going to be very, very fluid. People are on the move. A relationship with a moving target is hard to use in a direct marketing campaign.

Next there is delivery of goods purchased, etc.

But, on the other hand, the people are getting, so says the news, a $2,000 debit card. So, catalog sales and efforts would be possible.

Then there is the matter of the necessary navel gazing that needs to be done by those in office now -- as to the delays and investigations, etc. These guys need to take a long, hard look in the rear view mirror. They are in a reactive mode, sadly. This effort for new legislation is proactive and where they should be -- but they are not. I don't think it will resonate with any office staffers at this time.

This could be a good campaign point to mention in 2006 races, for sure. But it would need a lot of buzz to take root -- when roots are so frail.

Furthermore, why don't we allow the marketplace to heal when it can -- not make these people islands where there can't be outreach. Some want normal relations without "special interest" pockets of "isolation."

For example, perhaps there is a truck load of work boots for $5 a pair headed to the Gulf or a shelter -- and handbills are delivered. Who is to say that those efforts ( relief in part, commerce in part ) CAN'T occur except by special order of FEMA or some other bureaucrat.

I think the tone needs to be "buyer beware" and "protect yourself" and "don't be slopp with your personal security."

However, this does lead to the points of ELECTIONS and VOTER Registrations.

Since 2001's hanging chad fumbles and follies -- we've done more damage than good in efforts of Voter Protection, vote counting, and so on.

What if you are running for school board in Houston and there are 15,000 new neighbors -- and you gotta go door-to-door in the next month, before a November election. ???

We do need, as open-source folks, have good measures of freedom and responsibility -- BOTH are needed.

Furthermore, I think we need to elbow a few along the way in terms of "democracy" and "inclusion" and allowing every voice to count and/or be heard.

This (people finder) is a massive project where each individual needs to be accounted for. The same is true in our American society with voting. Each individual needs to be able to have the opportunity to cast a vote. Not just men. Not just land owners. Not just residents since before Katrina. There is a dignity and worth to every human that DOES not change because of situations (skin color, neighborhood,
parents, job status, etc.)

I don't think we need to be MORE controlling -- but instead insert more LIBERTY -- and have a big sense of the core justice avenues. In America -- we vote. We do JURY Duty. We are all innocent until proven guilty.

Generally, too, we have freedoms to associate and free travel -- and free trade.

We are sure to need efforts of protection -- but, IMHO, they need to be geared to inclusion -- not isolation.

More to come, I'm sure. I just thought of another option.

How about a Creative Commons License that prevents commercial use? I'll email Lessig.

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